Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Did the Last Generation of SBC Leaders Fumble the Kingdom Football?

In late 1999, a group of SBC executives and Baptist state executives, facing a new millennium and a fast-paced, postmodern culture, met to discuss how the Southern Baptists could ever hope to be a vibrant influence in world evangelization. A task force was then formed, and after numerous meetings and times of spiritual and scriptural reflection, concluded that since Jesus focused exclusively on the kingdom of God, all Southern Baptists should focus on it as well. They also examined a successful kingdom-oriented emphasis called “Empowering Kingdom Growth” (EKG) developed by Carlisle Driggers in the South Carolina Convention in the early 1990’s. They borrowed the name and went to work to implement a similar agenda worldwide. This was a major undertaking.

During the 2002 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, at the recommendation of the task force, the messengers voted unanimously to adopt a new spiritual initiative, which called upon Southern Baptist churches and members everywhere to concentrate fully on the kingdom of God. The vote was not simply for another program, but an entire new direction for the Convention. Henceforth, all SBC programs, boards and agencies were challenged to focus their full attention and energy on kingdom ministry.

At the time of the vote, President James Merritt called the decision as significant for the Southern Baptist Convention as the decision made in 1925 to launch the Cooperative Program. The EKG task force wrote that the Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative “could prove to be an unprecedented turning point in American history,” considering that never before has such a large body of evangelicals decided to put aside secondary issues to concentrate solely on the kingdom of God.

A national coordinator was named in 2003 to implement the worldwide initiative. But something went awry. EKG became just another program that eventually fizzled into near obscurity.

Hopefully, a newer generation of SBC leaders will pick up the kingdom football and take it toward the goal line of world evangelization.

["Heaven on Earth: Experiencing the Kingdom ..." seeks to transform readers into a kingdom citizens and congregations into kingdom-focused churches. Available on Amazon]

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